Is Chocolate Good for Your Teeth?

Brunette woman smiles as she eats a piece of dark chocolate in Katy, TX

It’s always a good rule of thumb to limit your candy consumption to protect your teeth. But when you do eat candy, there are certain types of candy that are better than others. Let’s take a look at how chocolate can affect your oral health!

Is Candy Bad for Teeth?

Generally, candy is high in both sugar and calories, and low in beneficial nutrients. The bacteria that live in your mouth thrive off your dietary sugars. So when you eat candy, they have a feast.

As bacteria eat, they produce harmful acids that erode and demineralize your tooth enamel. You can strengthen and remineralize your teeth with daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, drinking fluoridated water, and consuming tooth-healthy foods with calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. However, if demineralization outpaces remineralization, you will develop tooth decay and cavities, which are holes in the hard outer layer of teeth, called the enamel.

Therefore, consuming sugary candy will increase your risk of decay.

Is Chocolate Good or Bad for Teeth?

When it comes to chocolate, it depends on the cacoa content! The best type of chocolate is dark chocolate with a cacao percentage of at least 70%. This means the chocolate contains beneficial antioxidants and flavanols naturally present in cacao beans. Flavanols are plant compounds that provide anti-inflammatory and immune benefits. Research is growing that eating modest amounts of dark chocolate may also improve blood pressure and heart health.

In contrast, white chocolate and milk chocolate do not provide the same health benefits as dark chocolate. And these chocolate varieties contain more sugar, thereby increasing your risk of decay more so than dark chocolate. However, they are still the lesser of two evils when compared to many other types of candy that are sticky and slow-dissolving, such as chewy caramel, taffy, lollipops, jawbreakers, sugary gum, gummy bears, gummy worms, and sour candy.

What to Do If You Have a Cavity

If you feel extreme pain or sensitivity around a tooth, it might mean that you have a untreated cavity! Don’t ignore your tooth pain. Our team at Heritage Dental can provide you with quick and professional emergency care to get your oral health back on track.

Gentle Dental Care in Katy, TX

Twice-yearly preventive cleanings and checkups with our family dentist in Katy, TX, can help protect you from oral health issues, like cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. For those of you who are nervous to be at the dentist, know that we offer several dental sedation options, which can keep you calm and relaxed throughout your visit with us. We hope to see you soon. Contact us today to schedule your next appointment!

Can Teeth Whitening Damage Gums?

Bald man smiles in a dental chair before receiving professional teeth whitening in Katy, TX

Looking for a safe and effective way to transform your smile? Consider our ZOOM!® Whitening Deep Bleaching system! Not only does a whiter smile take years off your appearance, it can boost your confidence. Professional teeth whitening can give you the encouragement you need to show off your smile.

Before committing to professional teeth whitening, many patients have lots of questions. They want to know what kind of results they can expect, how long the process takes, and whether there are any safety concerns. We love when patients ask questions because it shows they are concerned about their oral health. Today, we want to focus on safety concerns around whitening teeth.

About Our ZOOM! Whitening

Our ZOOM! Whitening Deep Bleaching system utilizes professional-grade products to deliver first-rate results. We create custom take-home trays that fit perfectly around your teeth to ensure each tooth remains in contact with the bleaching gel. In as little as two weeks, this system lightens your teeth from the inside-out to address stubborn intrinsic and extrinsic stains.

Can Whitening Hurt Your Gums?

Some whitening systems, particularly over-the-counter whitening products, can irritate your gums, while giving subpar whitening results. Ill-fitting whitening trays and strips allow for saliva dilution and gel leakage. And do-it-yourself whitening treatments often involve risky ingredients, such as lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide, that aren’t safe when used in the way some “recipes” direct.

How to Prevent Gum Irritation From Teeth Whitening

Our ZOOM! Whitening take-home trays have been professional developed for your unique needs. Professional teeth whitening at Heritage Dental eliminates your risk of developing gum irritation due to teeth whitening. Throughout the whitening process, our team is here to ensure your health, comfort, and safety.

Safe Teeth Whitening in Katy, TX

Be sure to check out our patient specials. Moreover, we offer several payment options so you can achieve the smile of your dreams. To ask our team any additional questions about teeth whitening and how to keep your gums safe, or if you’re interested in learning about our other cosmetic dental services, contact us today!

Should I Get Invisalign or Braces?

Closeup of a woman with red lipstick putting on her Invisalign trays

Are you looking to straighten your teeth? You’re likely considering Invisalign® or braces. Here, we’ll explain how they compare to help you know if Invisalign or braces is better for your unique situation.

Invisalign 101

This straightening method uses clear plastic trays that fit over your teeth to gradually move them into proper alignment. Invisalign can correct mild to moderate misalignment issues.

Invisalign aligners are removable. You take them out when you eat, drink anything other than water, brush and floss, and get your teeth cleaned at the dentist. You can also take them out for a special occasion, an interview, or a date. However, it’s best to remove them only when necessary. You need to wear your aligners at least 20-22 hours each day for your treatment to be as efficient as possible.

Every couple weeks you will switch out the aligners for a new set to continue your teeth’s progression. While you may feel some pressure when you switch out your new aligners, it won’t be painful.

Braces 101

Traditional braces can fix even the most complex alignment issues. These include mild to severe underbites, overbites, crowding, gaps, mismatched midlines (when the middle of your lower and upper teeth don’t line up), open bites (when there’s a gap between the top and bottom teeth when the mouth is closed), and more!

Typical braces are made of wires that are connected to either metal or ceramic brackets. These brackets are little squares adhered to your teeth for the entirety of your orthodontic treatment. The wires apply pressure to the brackets, gradually moving your teeth into proper alignment. Treatment can look different from one patient to the next. Some patients need two phases of braces or additional tools like a palate expander or rubber bands attached in various patterns to make their treatment more successful.

Every several weeks the wires will need to be adjusted and tightened so that they continue to move your teeth into the right position. Your teeth and mouth may feel more sensitive around this time. Orthodontic wax will help ease any mouth irritation.

Invisalign or Braces?

Whether Invisalign or braces is the right option for you depends on your alignment needs and lifestyle.

Although Invisalign is discreet and allows for simple cleaning of your teeth, the trays cannot fix all alignment issues, can be lost or forgotten, and require daily maintenance to prevent warping and discoloration. Though a good denture cleaner or Retainer Brite® can make cleaning simple. Additionally, some patients report the near constant wear time aids in their weight loss goals.

Braces can tackle complex alignment issues, but the brackets are more noticeable, can irritate your mouth, require meticulous cleaning, and preclude the eating of certain foods. Many patients with braces find oral hygiene easier with an electric toothbrush, interdental brushes, floss threaders, and a water flosser.

Schedule Your Consultation for Invisalign in Katy, TX

Our expert team can help you decide if Invisalign clear aligner therapy is the right solution to your misalignment. We’d be thrilled to have you visit our dental office in Katy, TX, for a consultation. Contact us today!

How to Help Kids with Dental Anxiety

Young boy in a blue and white striped shirt laughs after conquering his dental anxiety at Heritage Dental in Katy, TX

Many kids (and adults!) struggle with fear and anxiety leading up to their biannual dental visits. If your child experiences dental anxiety, we’ve got some tips for you:

1. Meet-and-Greet

Familiarity helps us feel less anxious. If your child is going to be seeing a new dentist, schedule a time to visit the office together before the appointment. This introductory visit allows your child to meet their new dentist and smile team, and familiarize themselves with the office. Your child will feel more comfortable when it comes time for their actual appointment since some of the “unknown” and “newness” of the situation will be diminished.

2. Be Positive

Stay positive when it comes to talking about the dentist. Frame their visit as something they can look forward to. It may help to couple a dental appointment with a special reward afterward, like a trip to the park or the movies. Let them know why they are going (and that you regularly visit the dentist too!), what they can expect, and how they will benefit from their visit. Be encouraging and consider avoiding trigger words, such as pain, uncomfortable, fear, and needles.

3. Make Dental Care Fun

Be proactive and encouraging about dental care at home. If kids understand the importance of at-home dental care and see it as a fundamental aspect of their daily routine, they’ll be more likely to think their dental visits are also important. Little rewards and incentives, like a sticker chart, are one way to do this, or try playing music or a short video while your child brushes and flosses.

4. Choose Our Kid-Friendly Dentist at Heritage Dental in Katy, TX

We also recommend taking your child to a family dentist that has experience working with kids. At Heritage Dental in Katy, TX, we are proud to treat patients of all ages. We understand the unique needs of children and do all we can to help them feel safe and comfortable. Families love our dental sedation options and patient amenities. We have complimentary drinks and snacks in our lobby, TVs with Netflix® in our treatment rooms, and comfy pillows and blankets. Contact us today to schedule visits for your entire family!

5 Tips for Beating Bad Breath

Brunette woman in a tan dress smiles after beating her bad breath with the help of the team at Heritage Dental

Success in our interactions with others requires a certain level of self-confidence. This is true whether you’re on a date, at a neighborhood barbecue, chatting with friends at a social gathering, or working on a task with your employer, employees, or colleagues. In nearly every situation, having bad breath can inhibit your confidence and quality of life, making these interactions more stressful than enjoyable.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to ensure your breath is fresh instead of foul. Here are just a few tips to follow:

1. Maintain Your Daily Dental Hygiene

Brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes each time. Be sure to brush your tongue too! Floss every day. These critical hygiene steps will help reduce your mouth’s amount of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, that causes bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.

2. Rinse with an Alcohol-Free Antibacterial Mouthwash

Rinsing your mouth after brushing can help rid your mouth of bacteria and keep it fresh. Choose an alcohol-free mouthwash with antibacterial properties.

3. Stay Hydrated

Drinking water rinses the mouth of food particles and bacteria. Additionally, water is necessary for the production of saliva, which aids in enamel remineralization and combats tooth decay, dry mouth, and bad breath.

4. Stop Smoking

If you smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products, it’s time to quit. These habits wreak havoc on your oral health. Not only does tobacco cause bad breath and malodor, it increases your risk for oral cancer and is dangerous to your overall health.

5. Chew Sugar-Free Gum

Studies have shown that chewing sugar-free gum for at least 20 minutes after eating freshens breath and helps clean teeth. However, keep in mind that chewing gum isn’t a substitute for daily brushing and flossing, but supplemental.

Consult with Heritage Dental About Your Bad Breath

If you’re insecure about bad breath, let us know. We may find that the problem is deeper than daily practices can help. For example, a cavity or abscess can create malodor, or advanced gum disease. Whatever your situation, we can help come with up a treatment plan to get your oral health back on track. So contact us today to schedule your next appointment at our dental office in Katy, TX.

Dental Implants vs. Dentures

Husband and wife smile and walk down the sidewalk with ice cream cones discussing dental implants vs. dentures

Modern dental patients are blessed with more options than ever when it comes to replacing missing teeth. For some people though, this blessing can feel like a curse because it leaves them unsure about which is really right for them. If you’re dealing with indecision about what restorative dental treatment is the best option to reclaim your smile, our Heritage Dental team is happy to help! In this blog post, we break down the differences between two of the most popular treatment options: dental implants vs. dentures.

Pros & Cons of Dental Implants

The biggest advantage to dental implants is how they’re permanently fixed in place. Their design mimics a real tooth, which means they’re secured into your jawbone. That, in turn, means that you don’t have to fuss with taking them in and out, and they’ll feel and function just like your other teeth. And like natural teeth, their only maintenance includes daily brushing and flossing and routine dental visits.

The main drawback of dental implants is their cost. It’s one of the more expensive options, and if you have to replace multiple teeth with single implants the price can add up. Some patients don’t choose implants simply because they want a more affordable option. Other people don’t get dental implants because they don’t qualify for the surgery due to the state of their oral health or their jawbone is not strong enough.

Pros & Cons of Dentures

Full and partial dentures have long been a cost-effective way of replacing missing teeth. Getting them is also a simpler, shorter, and less invasive process than dental implants because oral surgery isn’t required to place them. And, as mentioned, they can be quite affordable, especially if you’re someone who needs to replace a whole arch of teeth.

On the other hand, some people can’t get over the feel of dentures. They may not ever get used to having the appliance sitting on their gums, especially when they’re talking or chewing. Going along with that, they may dislike the inconvenience of having to take them out to clean them every day or they may be worried about their dentures slipping out. However, any slippage can be prevented by stabilizing the dentures with dental implants!

We Can Help You Decide Between Dental Implants vs. Dentures!

If you have more questions about dental implants vs. dentures, reach out to our team for an in-person consultation. At Heritage Dental, we provide both dental implants and dentures, so we’d be happy to give you the answers you need to make an informed decision. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!

How to Handle a Holiday Dental Emergency

Brunette woman in a yellow sweater cringes in pain and cradles her jaw due to a holiday dental emergency

The holidays can be stressful enough already with planning travel, getting the whole family together, and cooking big festive meals, to name just a few activities. The last thing you need on your hands is a holiday dental emergency. If, however, that does happen to you, here’s what you should do.

Call Your Emergency Dentist

First things first, call your emergency dentist so you can see if they’re seeing urgent cases even during the holidays. If they’re not, chances are they’ll have some sort of instructions in their answering machine about who you can call or what you should do in case of an emergency.

Ask for Help If Traveling

When traveling, the front desk at your hotel or your host family is a great source for recommendations since they are familiar with the area. Shortly after arriving, ask them about a local dentist you could go to if you experience a dental emergency. You won’t necessarily want to wait until you return home to get the care you need or else a small problem could become worse and put a damper on the rest of your vacation.

Take Over-the-Counter Pain Medication If Necessary

If your dental emergency is causing you pain, you can take an over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen to ease your discomfort. Remember not to put aspirin directly onto your gums near your toothache though, because this can irritate and harm the gum tissue.

Seek Urgent Care for Severe Problems

For life-threatening situations, such as trauma to your jaw, uncontrollable bleeding, extreme facial swelling, and difficulty swallowing or breathing, you should head to your nearest emergency room.

Care for a Holiday Dental Emergency in Katy, TX

As providers of emergency dentistry, we know how overwhelming a dental emergency can be, but we’re here to guide you through it. Call us if you’re in need of urgent dental care or if you have a question about how to prepare for a holiday dental emergency.

Fun Dental Stocking Stuffers

Closeup of red stockings hanging from the fireplace with a lit Christmas tree in the background

Photo by Dan LeFebvre on Unsplash

The holidays are finally here! If you’re a family who puts up stockings, we have some fun stocking stuffers for you to mix things up from your standard fare. Of course, as dental professionals, we couldn’t help but suggest stocking stuffers that all have a dental twist. After all, receiving a present and having something that encourages good oral care is a win-win!

1. Unique-Flavored Toothpaste

Mint may be the most popular toothpaste flavor, but it’s definitely not the only one out here. There’s quite the assortment of flavors, from refreshing ones like cinnamon, orange, and ginger, to crazier ones like cupcake, bacon, and chocolate.

2. Dental-Related Children’s Book

If you’re stuffing the stocking of a child, you may have already thought about getting them a storybook. So why not get one that can help them develop healthy habits? There are tons of interesting books out there designed around teaching kids how to take care of their teeth and why it’s important.

3. Cute Toothbrush Cover or Case

A toothbrush cover or case is a practical gift idea for someone who frequently travels. It’s an excellent way to make sure their toothbrush stays clean while it’s packed away somewhere away from home, whether that’s a foreign country or a friend’s sleepover. There are lots of fun colors and designs that your recipient is sure to love.

4. Sugar-Free Gum

Sugar-free chewing gum is always handy to have, and it’s the perfect size to slip into a stocking. Be sure any gum you choose is sugar-free so it won’t harm your recipient’s dental health. In fact, sugar-free gum is good for oral health! It will help freshen their breath, remove food particles, and stimulate the production of saliva for healthy and strong teeth.

Want More Recommendations for Dental Stocking Stuffers?/h2>

If you want to include more dental products as stocking stuffers but aren’t quite sure which brands are the best choice, contact our team at Heritage Dental. We can give you our professional recommendations for things like electric toothbrushes and floss, all based on your specific dental needs.

Healthy Holiday Treats for the Whole Family

Mom, dad, and 2 children smile in a sleigh celebrating the holidays

Thanksgiving has come and gone and now the winter holidays are here. And that means you’re going to be surrounded by plenty of sweet holiday treats. Our Heritage Dental team is definitely not saying you should cut these goodies out of your life completely, but we do think it’s important to remember your dental health even amid all the festivities. As an alternative to the standard cookies, candy, and pies that may increase your likelihood of holiday cavities, we want to offer up some healthy alternatives. Don’t worry, these healthy holiday treats are still delicious!

1. Festive Fruit

When it comes to nutrition and oral health, fruit is always a good choice to satisfy your sweet tooth. For a holiday treat, you can make fruit more fun by presenting it in a festive way. For example, make a little snowman out of three banana slices and then top him with a strawberry Santa hat. Cut wedges of watermelon into holiday shapes. Or arrange sliced kiwis, honeydew, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries into a Christmas tree with ornaments.

2. Cheese Plate

Did you know that cheese is great for dental health because of its calcium and phosphorus content? A beautifully arranged cheese plate makes for a welcome addition to any holiday spread. It’s also a clever way to sneak more fruit onto the table since grapes make for the perfect accompaniment to cheese, whole-grain crackers, and nuts.

3. Dark Chocolate

Along with its high amount of antioxidants, dark chocolate also has less sugar than its cousins white and milk chocolate. All of this means that it’s a healthier choice for a holiday treat. If you want to make chocolate-covered fruit or nuts, stick with melted dark chocolate.

Share Your Favorite Healthy Holiday Treats with Our Team!

We hope you and your family have a lovely holiday season together. If you need any dental care before you jet off on vacation or before you cozy up for the break at home, reach out to our Heritage Dental team. Or if you have more ideas for healthy holiday treats, we would love your suggestions. Contact us today!

Do I Need Root Canal Therapy?

Brunette woman wearing a beige sweater smiles after receiving root canal therapy in Katy, TX at Heritage Dental

Root canals have a bad reputation, but they are actually a virtually painless procedure that is quite common. In fact, the American Association of Endodontists estimates that 15.1 million root canals are performed annually. Read this blog post to learn about the purpose of root canal therapy. We also discuss signs that may indicate you need this treatment to preserve the health of your teeth.

What Is Root Canal Therapy?

Root canal therapy, or endodontic therapy, is a treatment that targets issues with the innermost section of the tooth beneath the enamel and dentin. During the root canal procedure, the damaged nerve and pulp inside the tooth are removed, and bacteria and infection are cleaned out of the roots. The goal of the procedure is to eliminate pain, prevent the spread of decay and infection, and keep as much of the natural tooth structure as possible.

Why Might I Need Root Canal Treatment?

Endodontic treatment is necessary when a tooth’s nerve and pulp become inflamed or infected because of decay or damage. At your routine checkups, we will evaluate if your teeth are healthy or in need of root canal therapy. However, there are some warning signs that commonly indicate a need for the procedure. If you notice any of the following, contact us as soon as possible: a chronic intense toothache; sensitivity to pressure, heat, and cold; discoloration of the affected tooth; swelling; and a pimple-like sore on the gums.

What Do I Need to Know About the Procedure?

There’s really no need to dread root canals. They are typically performed in just one or two visits to our office, and you’ll be kept comfortable throughout your visit with us thanks to our relaxing patient amenities, anesthesia, and sedation dentistry.

Top-Notch Dental Care in Katy, TX

If you need root canal treatment, do not delay having it done. Contrary to what you may have heard, the procedure isn’t scary. It will actually help your tooth pain go away and prevent further issues. Our friendly team will do all we can to help you stay calm and comfortable throughout your visit with us. So if you’ve been told you need root canal therapy, get in to see us ASAP to protect your oral health. Contact us today!